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Old 02-16-08, 10:07 AM   #1
ebrady
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Bad day stories

What are some of the greatest challenges you have had to overcome on a tour?

Here is one (not for me, someone else...)

Mark Beaumont, from Fife, completed a journey around the world, on a bike in 195 days - beating the previous record of 276 days.

He ran into some problems when navigating the U.S., got hit by an elderly driver in Louisiana, then things got worse when he went to the closest bike shop in Lafayette to get his bike fixed. Mark listed this experience "The hardest day" of the whole 195 day adventure.

His full route with interviews can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/outdoo...ing_around/map
Scroll down to read the part "The Hardest Day" for the Louisiana story.

Direct link to his audio interview about it can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/player/?item=44533931
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Old 02-16-08, 10:14 AM   #2
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Never been hit, but the worst day touring beats the best day working.
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Old 02-16-08, 10:37 AM   #3
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One of the things that has most amazed me is that multi-month tours have gone off, not only without something untoward happening, but with a wonderful series of fortuitous events. How many times I've headed for days toward some ferry crossing to arrive just in time to wheel my bike on board or arrived at the train station and have the ticket agent tell me to hurry down the platform because the train was about to leave. Once, I was on the receiving end of the deservedly famous "French scowl" for no reason that I could fathom. So that would have been the worst thing to happen on a five month trip over that way. I've never gotten over the horror of it.
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Old 02-16-08, 11:45 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by gz_ View Post
the worst day touring beats the best day working.
I'll respectfully disagree with you on this one. I love touring and I look forward to each trip. But I also love my job. I actually look forward to Monday mornings when I get to go in to work. If I start to lose the joy I get from my work, it will be time to find other employment.


To get back to the original question on this thread, I've had things go wrong. Some of the least enjoyable were:
• Seven flats in 10 kilometres
• A chain breaking, 16 kilometres from the nearest repair shop. I had no chain tool at the time.
• Nearly dehydrating while climbing a mountain in 40 C heat after I ran out of water.
But at the end of the day, I've always been happy to be on the road.
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Old 02-16-08, 12:10 PM   #5
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I have been lucky to have had few bad days on tours. No accidents. I once had two punctures in a row, but that was more of an inconvenience.

My "worst" days have involved bonking. It's happened on several trips, and in case, bonking ruined the trip. For example, after two full days of climbing a mountain pass in Switzerland, my leg muscles gave out. I simply could not deliver enough power to my legs to make progress when pedaling uphill. (I experienced no pain or numbness, and walking was no problem.) So I checked into a hotel for two days, stayed off my bike, ate well, slept deeply, stretched frequently, went for strolls, and then continued on my trip. But the problem persisted, so in the next town I stopped and rested for six days. I was OK after that, but it was disconcerting that my legs refused to pedal!
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Old 02-16-08, 12:30 PM   #6
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Waking up one morning in camping Parga, northern Greece last spring to find that someone reached in our tent (sometime after 03:00) took out our handelbar bags and removed our phones, wallet (with 80 euros) and camera (with about 450 pictures). We were happy they didn't take our passports.
We were told later that we had been lucky as some thieves like to use razors on the tent as they are quicker and make less noise then using the zippers.
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Old 02-16-08, 12:50 PM   #7
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My worst day was from noon on Saturday to Noon on Sunday.

After a good lunch on Saturday we climbed up the mountain pass hoping to find a good camping place for the night. It started to shower. The shower turned into a rain. The camp ground we hoped for was closed so we went higher up the mountain and of course could find no camping spots. As darkness was falling we found a flat spot off the road for some "Commando Camping". I did not pick my spot well because as the sun set the rain became a down pour. We were stuck in the tent all night with a PB&J sandwiches and oranges for diner. As we tired to go to sleep the water began to run THUR the tent. We didn't sleep at all that night. We just huddled together in our sodden sleeping bags and prayed for day break.

Sunday morning when sun rise finally arrived it was still raining. We loaded up our wet gear and set off in the rain to a cafe we had heard was 10 miles up the road for some coffee and a dry seat at a dry table for a real hot breakfast. The cafe was closed on Sunday!! So after a granola bar we continued climbing up the mountain as the rain turned into snow.

I have to tell you this was my lowest moment I've ever on a bike.

We topped the mountain pass at 11:30 and the snow was sticking to the road making the bike handling very scary. However, the downhill side of the pass was great as the sun came out and it warmed up and we coasted 25 miles down into the next valley were we go a good hot meal.

THE LESSON HERE IS... Bike touring is a lot like life --- you have ups and downs, but keep going and it will get better.
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Old 02-16-08, 01:00 PM   #8
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Worst day was when we lost our freedom

Cindie and I are asked this question often: What has been your worst day or the worst thing to happen to you? During our 6 years of living and traveling on bicycles, a few bad things have happened but really given all that time on the road our negative experiences are few and far between.

By far the scariest in terms of our personal safety and freedom and therefore worst event has to be when the two of us were arrested and detained in China. The whole tale is written up but is too large to post here. It can be found on our web site by following the link below.

http://www.downtheroad.org/Asia/Letters/9China_censorship.htm
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Old 02-16-08, 02:44 PM   #9
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My lowest point came in April 1988 when a lovely 84 year old woman managed to hit me head-on- fortunately under thirty MPH. The Alex Moulton ATB fully loaded and only three months old was no match for her 4000 pound car. I tried to bunny hop the bike onto the hood but did not quite make it. I ended up spread across the hood and windshield. As I yelled at the woman to stop the car she reached over and turned on the windshield wipers and washer to remove the large bug that now blocked her windshield.

When she finally stopped I knew that the blood dripping down the windshield was mine as was the blood spurting from my right knee. While waiting for the ambulance a police car arrived and kindly took my bike to a local bike shop to hold for me. I calmed the driver down enough to prevent a stroke or coronary and wrote down her name and insurance.

The ambulance had just entered the nearby Interstate when a car pulled along side with the sunroof open. It revealed a man covered in blood frantically wanting the ambulance to stop to help HIM. We stopped and I ended up holding an IV saline bag the rest of the way to the hospital for the second passenger and trying to keep him awake.

Once at the hospital emergency room the MD's set me aside quickly and worked on this guy who had been using a chainsaw overhead when he dropped it carving divots in his head arms and thighs as it fell. Messy.

While I waited my turn for treatment I took out the piece of paper that the driver had written down her information for me. It was written on the back of the results of her latest eye exam. She was rated as legally blind!

When my turn for treatment came I received 10 or 12 stitches over my right eye and the bad news that my knee was badly damaged. An MRI revealed completely torn cartilage and a severed ACL. I had arthroscopic surgery to remove all of the cartilage and other debris. No help for the ACL.

The driver's insurance company as expected tried every means to make it my fault which failed since even the driver admitted her error confirmed by the police investigation.They wanted me to pay for the medical expenses now and they would reimburse me later! I laughed in his face about that one.

The insurance company rep also would not believe that a bicycle could cost $2000 even with a three month old receipt in hand so he delayed paying for the totaled bike while he <researched> the issue.

The silver lining in all of this is that after almost 12 months the insurance company settled with me about the bike much to my advantage because the $ vs English Pound exchange rate had doubled in MY favor. The chagrined rep paid me $4000. I used the funds to order a custom Bruce Gordon Titanium RNR that I am riding to this day.

The insurance company paid for all the medical and rehab costs along the way but since the driver had the absolute minimum of coverage and was otherwise penniless I did not become an overnight millionaire. But I am still riding though without an ACL to stabilize the knee and a lack of cartilage presents some problems.

My biggest disappointment was that I missed the chance to ride the Karakorum Highway from Pakistan into Tibet and China that year as planned.
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Old 02-16-08, 04:47 PM   #10
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This probably would never have happened had I not been overly tired and inattentive. Perhaps it was the late start I’d gotten out of Lemmon SD after the previous day’s 101-mile westward push, headlong into headwinds, from Mobridge. It could have been the late hour at which I retired that night, after raising the glass with Lemmon’s friendly townspeople. Or it could have been the present morning’s fueling of giant pancakes that the waitress had warned me against, in what was probably the understatement of the trip: “Oh, are you sure you want three? They’re large.” A Buick hubcap would have been an inadequate serving platter. Nevertheless, I had insisted that three would be just fine and, in a face-saving performance before skeptical diners, devoured them hungrily.

I had a nice tailwind and the day progressed easily, but not without event. After having pedaled over 1900 miles I suffered my first flat tire, and was obliged to repair it against a chilly backdrop of ever-threatening storm clouds, whose occasional streaks of lightning kept me alert. By late afternoon I reached the day’s destination, Bowman ND, only to find that the neighboring state park wouldn’t open for several days. I was relieved, however, to hear the caretaker’s assurance that the Lion’s Club City Park in Bowman welcomed tenters and that it was only a mile ahead.

The park, a small grassy area sporting His and Hers outhouses, was deserted when I arrived. Slowly I set about the tasks of encampment, erecting the tent and emptying the panniers of the evening’s necessities. By this time I knew the drill well, my movements, automatic. The urgency to be set up before dark, which had once seemed so crucial, had long been replaced by the feeling that accompanies a relaxed but satisfying routine. But by the time the tent and bedding were readied, I began to feel a bit sleepy. And though it was past five, I was not a bit hungry. Still running on pancakes, I guessed.

I lay in the tent and must have dozed, but only briefly, as it was still light when I was awakened—awakened by a sound coming from just outside the tent. Unzipping the screen, I emerged to find that I was no longer alone. “Well, hello there”, I managed, mounting a show of friendship to balance what must have been a startled look. The stranger made no reply, not one word, and the syrup flowing in my veins suddenly gave way to adrenaline. He did not look especially menacing...it was just that he stood there, motionless and silent, amid the equipment that I’d strewn about the campsite earlier.

Mutually scrutinizing, our gazes met and a staring contest began. I blinked. Looking away to survey my belongings, my eyes came to rest on my helmet, in which lay my biking gloves. Instantly, as though reading my mind, he darted in that very direction, snatched the gloves and was off and running. He had every advantage over me: youth, fitness, and the element of surprise, plus the fact that he hadn’t biked 67 miles that day. I didn’t even attempt pursuit, opting instead for a full-blown tantrum, jumping up and down, shaking my fists angrily and bellowing stuff that must have cowed the cattle in the adjacent pasture. It wasn’t as much the gloves as it was the surprise. And what a surprise; after living most of my life in New York state, some of it in the Big Apple, here I was on the outskirts of a town with not enough people to answer the phones in an average skyscraper ... and for the first time in my life, I get mugged!

I considered reporting the incident the next morning, but ended up just forgetting it. But if I had, I could have given the local sheriff a good description of the perpetrator. “Officer,” I would have reported, “he was young and good looking, unshaven, a bit short, and he was white ... with black spots.” It was the worst case of Dalmatian larceny I’d ever seen.
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Old 02-17-08, 06:47 AM   #11
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A 90km climb from Mexicos Pacific coast up towards Oaxaca city definitely rates as the hardest thing i've ever done on a bike. You can read about it by clicking on; http://www.geocities.com/pathebikegu...ndsteeper.html

The scariest moment on one of my tours is an encounter with the Jordanian military last March in Jordan. Heres a copy of an email i sent home after the incident.
Like Windsor and Detroit, Aqaba is only a few km's away from Eilat, Isreal. You can see Eilat clearly from here when its not raining and ovecast. The only thing seperating the 2 cities is the border. There are only 3 places in all of Jordan you can cross into Isreal and one of them is right here outside Aqaba. Yesterday I cycled to the border crossing with Saudi Arabia - no problems. Today, when the rain finally stopped I decided to go for a ride and check out the Isreal border Crossing Point. I rode right up to the Crossing Point. There's a gate house with a metal bar blocking the road just like at a parking lot. A few meters away is barbed wire fence marking the border I would assume and the soldiers barracks. The valley is dry and there is just desert as far as you can see. Nothing interesting. No welcome to Isreal sign etc. So I turned around and started heading back to town. I hadn't gotten more than a km or two when I hear the loud wheels of truck approaching quickly from behind and honking its horn. Before I new it a military jeep with 6 soldiers and a large machine gun goes by me and forces me to stop. One of the soldiers jumps out and ask me why i was there. Why i had gone to the crossing point. They asked to see my passport but I didn't have it. It was at the hotel. So i gave him my wallet which had my drivers licence. Still suspicious they politely but firmly asked me to get in the back of the jeep - and raced back to their barracks where I met the commander of the border unit. He asked me a lot of questions using a soldier who new some english and could translate. It was hard to understand each other but eventually they were satisfied i was just a tourist sightseeing. It took a while but the fear finally started to subside when they offered me some tea. As is the custom here, strangers are always invited to share tea when they meet you for the first time. So before allowing me to leave they made some tea and we all had a few glasses. I rode away slowly - careful to not to look over at the Isreally side or to do anything that they might find suspicious.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:15 AM   #12
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My worst day was from noon on Saturday to Noon on Sunday.

After a good lunch on Saturday we climbed up the mountain pass hoping to find a good camping place for the night. It started to shower. The shower turned into a rain. The camp ground we hoped for was closed so we went higher up the mountain and of course could find no camping spots. As darkness was falling we found a flat spot off the road for some "Commando Camping". I did not pick my spot well because as the sun set the rain became a down pour. We were stuck in the tent all night with a PB&J sandwiches and oranges for diner. As we tired to go to sleep the water began to run THUR the tent. We didn't sleep at all that night. We just huddled together in our sodden sleeping bags and prayed for day break.

Sunday morning when sun rise finally arrived it was still raining. We loaded up our wet gear and set off in the rain to a cafe we had heard was 10 miles up the road for some coffee and a dry seat at a dry table for a real hot breakfast. The cafe was closed on Sunday!! So after a granola bar we continued climbing up the mountain as the rain turned into snow.

I have to tell you this was my lowest moment I've ever on a bike.

We topped the mountain pass at 11:30 and the snow was sticking to the road making the bike handling very scary. However, the downhill side of the pass was great as the sun came out and it warmed up and we coasted 25 miles down into the next valley were we go a good hot meal.

THE LESSON HERE IS... Bike touring is a lot like life --- you have ups and downs, but keep going and it will get better.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:57 AM   #13
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Getting arrested has to be about the worst thing that could possibly happen on a tour.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:58 AM   #14
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Mine is trivial compared to some of the accounts I'm reading here. Holy cow! Mine is broken spokes. My first big tour was down the west coast, from my former home in Seattle to my present one outside of San Luis Obispo. I bought a Nashbar Touring bike from the catalog (this was in 1992). It had 36 spokes per wheel, but I guess maybe they were laced by a machine? Anyway, I made it almost to the California border before breaking my first spoke. From there they gradually started breaking on a more frequent basis. By Santa Cruz I was breaking a spoke every other day or so. I broke 2 on the way to Santa Cruz and decided to call my tour over. I know - if I knew then what I know now, I could have fixed the problem and been on my way. Live and learn.
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Old 02-17-08, 12:00 PM   #15
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Now that's bad. I was going to post about some mechanical failures that I've had over the years, but getting rammed by a car and severing your ACL, that's some serious ****.
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Old 02-17-08, 09:00 PM   #16
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I've had a few bad days on the road here is a one I was just remided of.

While touring down the Brest to Nantes Canal towpath one fine February afternoon, I was heading south when the towpath turned into water. Well the water wasn’t too deep so I just kept going. This went on for a while until finally I hit some slippery mud and the bike went down and I flew over the handlebars head first into the canal. I had a hard time climbing up the muddy shore and I was soaking wet and covered in mud I was also getting very cold. I pushed the bike along the towpath until it became terra firma and than continued to ride until I found shelter under some sort of roadside chapel which had a giant concrete cross rocketing off towards the heavens! I striped down naked and dried myself off put on clean dry cloths and tried to wind dry my jacket. Meanwhile two French truck drivers were parked at the same spot eating their lunch and watching me and they didn’t seemed a bit interested in what I was doing.


You can have a look at what the canal looks like here. In winter it was a wonderful solitary ride which I would highly recommend.
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http://home.versatel.nl/mouringh.Mar...sBrest_eng.htm
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